Products Liability Law

Inadequate Labels and Warnings

A person who is hurt by a defective product may be entitled to compensation in a products liability lawsuit. There are many ways in which a product can be defective. An error could have been made in the product design or in the manufacturing process, for example. However, a product can also be defective if adequate warnings are not provided to the consumer about its use.

What is an Inadequate Warning or an Inadequate Label?

Most jurisdictions require a manufacturer to include proper warnings on labels, packaging or packaging inserts if the product presents a danger that is known or should be known to the manufacturer. Many courts consider whether the product is dangerous, whether the danger is known or should be known to the manufacturer, whether the danger is present if a consumer uses the product as directed and for its intended purpose and whether the danger is obvious or well known to the user. For example, it may not be necessary to label a set of steak knives with a warning that they are sharp and can be dangerous if they are used on people since that danger is obvious and well known to steak knife users. However, it is legally necessary to include a list of potential side effects on medications since the potential dangers of pharmaceutical drugs are not obvious or well known to most consumers.

If the above conditions are met, then a manufacturer has a duty to provide adequate warnings to consumers. The term “adequate” means different things in different jurisdictions. Generally, courts will look to see if the warning was placed in an obvious place to be seen by consumers, was in language that was able to be easily understood by most consumers and was sufficient to warn consumers of all known side effects.

The lack of an adequate warning can make a product unreasonably safe. If you use a product that failed to come with an adequate warning and you were hurt by that product then you may file a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. The statute of limitations in your jurisdiction limits the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit so it is important to contact a products liability attorney as soon as possible after your injury.

Potential Damages in a Products Liability Lawsuit

The potential damages in a products liability lawsuit that is filed on the basis of a manufacturer failing to provide an adequate warning of the product’s danger include compensation for past and future medical bills, lost income if you lost time from work because of your injuries, rehabilitation costs and compensation for pain and suffering. Some jurisdictions may also allow you to collect punitive damages from the defendant if the defendant’s failure to provide an adequate warning was particularly egregious.

Consumers have the right to use products safely and to know of all potential dangers before they decide to use a product. If the manufacturer of a product has failed to provide you with adequate warnings so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use the product then you may decide to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seek appropriate damages.